Narcissism and Substance Abuse

narcissism and addiction

Narcissists maintain the grandiose view that they are in control of the addiction and can quit and they want to. They feel they are exempt from conventional laws regarding the use of illicit substances, as well as immune to the natural laws of damaging effects on the body.”

~Cynthia Lechan Goodman and Barbara Leff, The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Not surprisingly, people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction are usually very self-absorbed. They care only about their own overwhelming need to compulsively feed their addiction and often hurt their loved ones and family members. However, did you know that extreme self-absorption can become an entirely separate mental illness?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is easily identified by the following symptoms:

  • Extreme self-obsession
  • Grandiosity
  • Compulsive admiration-seeking
  • Arrogance
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unfounded overconfidence
  • An inflated sense of entitlement
  • Willingness to insult or exploit others
  • Poor impulse control
  • Low self-esteem
  • Severe depression

This diagnosable medical disorder co-occurs simultaneously with Substance Use Disorder with greater frequency than you might imagine. Almost two-thirds of patients with NPD also struggle with maintaining sobriety.

How Narcissism Manifests during Addiction

  • Self-Obsession – “I need… What about ME?…I want”
  • Arrogance –“I’m can do anything I want.”
  • Grandiosity – “I’m too smart to get addicted.”
  • Overconfidence – “I can quit whenever I want.”
  • Constant Need to be Admired –“Show me you love me.”
  • Lack of empathy –“I don’t care what you say about my drug use.”
  • Sense of entitlement – “I DESERVE to blow off some steam.”
  • Willingness to exploit – “I really need you to lend me some money.
  • Impulsivity – “I just could not help myself.”
  • Low self-esteem – “I hate everything about myself. I’m worthless”
  • Depression – “Nothing matters at all. What’s the point?”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Craig Malkin says “There’s plenty of research that shows that people who have, say, narcissistic personality disorder…that they are more likely to turn to substances. If you do not trust that you can depend on people for love…you’re going to have to soothe yourself some other way. You can soothe yourself with narcissism, you can soothe yourself with a drug addiction”.

Narcissism and Addiction: Getting Help for a Dual Diagnosis

When Substance Abuse Disorder cooccurs with any mental illness, successful recovery requires specialized professional care and support. It is important that both conditions are treated as the primary problem, or else you run the risk of recovering from neither.

Unfortunately, not every rehab program or therapist is experienced or equipped to deal with such a complicated dual diagnosis.

But if you live in Southern California and are looking for a smart recovery program, your best local resource is Chapman House Treatment Centers. Since 1978, Chapman House has provided a premium, evidence-based substance abuse and mental health treatment program to help you stay clean. The Chapman House staff has the experience necessary to help you safely and successfully return to a sober, balanced, and more productive life. They want to help you bring back your sense of purpose. They offer support, coping skills, meetings on the 12 steps, and tools to aid in actually staying sober.

To start your own healing journey, contact Chapman House RIGHT NOW.

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